In Chinese culture, it is often considered a blessing when it rains - but not on August 8 next year.
Beijing Olympics organizers were dealt some bad news yesterday, when meteorological experts predicted rain at the opening ceremony at the National Stadium, the Bird's Nest.
Beijing's top meteorological experts calculated the prediction using rainfall data from the past 30 years, and said there will be a 50 percent chance of rainfall. But it's unlikely to be a downpour.
"Even if it rains, it is more likely to be a drizzle," Wang Yubin, deputy chief engineer with the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, said.
Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan said earlier that his "biggest headache" was the possibility of rain on the day of the Games' opening ceremony.
But to his relief, Beijing's top weathermen have pledged to use "advanced techniques" to keep the skies clear that day.
"We will use catalytic agents to force the rain clouds over the National Stadium to fall down prior to the opening ceremony," Zhang Qiang, who is in charge of Beijing's artificial rainmaking projects, said.
Wang Yubin said China was very experienced in cloud seeding. "We are pretty confident that we can effectively reduce rainfall in a small area."
Wang Jianjie, deputy head of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, also pledged to improve their weather forecasting skills this year for the "Good Luck Beijing" Olympic test events. They will rehearse the whole package of services this August.
"We will try our best to provide accurate forecasts for each Olympic venue either in Beijing or in other co-host cities," she said.
Hundreds of experienced weathermen will be "loaned" to the Beijing Meteorological Bureau to cope with the Olympics, she said.
Despite measures to keep the rain at bay, Beijing still has to keep its fingers crossed - as Wang Yubin said: "God bless Beijing".
(China Daily April 26, 2007)